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Genachowski Supports Deleting Fairness Doctrine Language

Chairman says there should be no mistake that the concept is a ‘dead letter’

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has told Congress he supports striking the so-called Fairness Doctrine and a couple of its corollaries from the Code of Federal Regulations, according to a report in Broadcasting & Cable.

He responded to a request from Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R- Ore.), chairs of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Communications Subcommittee, that the FCC officially delete the doctrine, pointing to President Obama’s directive this year that federal agencies review outdated regulations still on the books, B&C reported.

“I fully support deleting the Fairness Doctrine and related provisions form the Code of Federal Regulations,” he wrote in a letter dated June 6, a copy of which was obtained by B&C, “ so that there can be no mistake that what has been a dead letter is truly dead.”

He said that his staff was reviewing its regulations and he expected they would recommend deletion of the doctrine language and related corollaries.

As B&C reported, the issue came up after Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell pointed that, although the FCC ruled in 1987 that the doctrine was unconstitutional and unenforceable, it remained in the Code of Federal Regulations, “which meant essentially it was teed up if a future commission decided to enforce it.” McDowell suggested that it was time to take it off the books, and Republican legislators agree.

The doctrine required stations to air controversial issues of public importance and seek out opposing viewpoints. Also still on the books are corollaries to the doctrine providing for free response time for personal attacks and providing equal time for other candidates if a station endorsed a candidate in an editorial. The corollaries were repealed by the FCC in 2000.